Alessandro Casagrande was born in Terni in 1922 to a family dedicated to music. His father was part of the city Orchestra which was the only group that was able to guarantee a rather lively cultural life to the city before World War II broke out.
He began his piano studies in Terni and at the age of 14 moved to Rome and continued at the “Santa Cecilia”. He was guided by Rodolfo Caporali in his piano studies and by Virgilio Mortari in composition.
He also improved his skills as conductor under the guidance of Alceo Galliera at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana and later on with Carlo Zecchi in Salisbourg, where he was appreciated by Wilhem Furtwangler. He had a passion for composition ever since his early years (as shown by his “Fogli d’Album” for piano composed when he was 12) and his first most significant success dates back to 1942 for his performance of the “Missa in Honorem Sancta Ceciliae” during the “Maggio Musicale Fiorentino”.
This marked the beginning of his deep inborn passion for sacred music, to which he also combined a particular interest in ballet and film music.
In the course of time his style underwent a progressive purification, achieved through extreme coherence and no indulgence to second thought or deviations. This makes it easy for us to classify each and every composition within a unitary personality, despite the diverse inspirational motifs.
Alessandro Casagrande was particularly keen on orchestral sonatas and thanks to his inexhaustible rhythmic imagination, he managed to bring to life, in his compositions for ballet, some of his most remarkable expressions.
Apart from his intense activity as a composer and conductor of orchestra, he was also the director of the Musical Institute “G.Briccialdi” in Terni.
His premature and sudden death in 1964, prevented the Author from being present at the performances of his final works: “Asteres”, a symphonic poem in three tempos; “Tempo Sinfonico for Piano and Orchestra”; “Ninfea” an opera in two acts and a choreographic part: “Il Pianto della Madonna” a cantata for soli, choir and orchestra.
The two final compositions mark his highest achievement. The language sounds thoroughly mature and capable of expressing the deepest and sublimest human experience that is the presentiment of death and the serene acceptance of it. The “Cantata”, based on a text by Jacopone da Todi, was performed for the first time ever at the “Festival Sagra Musicale Umbra” in 1970. Casagrande finished it only two months prior to his death.
After his death, Casagrande’s music proved to be valuable and vital through various performances carried out by groups and soloists from many countries: “Fantasie di Pinocchio” (a ballet happily taken over in Rome in 1982 and performed by major European dance groups over the last ten years has been a top attraction in the theatres of Amsterdam, Prague, Moscow, Sofia and Brno, in recent years); “I Segni dello Zodiaco” for piano, have also beenturned into choreographics; the lyrics “A Saffo”; “The Divertimenti per Archi e Otto Strumenti” and “Frasi”, have all obtained immense success.
Recently, “Il Pianto della Madonna” was performed at the Festival Musica Riva (conductor I.Karabcevtsky).
In 1978 two lyrics for horn, piano and soprano were recorded in the “Contemporanea” collection, and in 2002 some well-known performances were included in a monographic CD, produced by Hermitage.